After a slow start to the season, Orlando City is finding its stride and riding a league-leading four-game winning streak after a 3-2 victory against the San Jose Earthquakes on Saturday.
Yet despite another three points that ascends Orlando higher in the Eastern conference table, the Lions are aware of some errors and have emphasised room for improvement
Orlando City has conceded four goals in four games in set-piece plays; two goals off a corner against San Jose, a goal conceded against the Portland Timbers on April 8 and another allowed against the New York Red Bulls on March 31.
“For me dead-ball situations, defending dead-ball situations are a matter of commitment, organization and focus,” Orlando City coach Jason Kreis said. “To give up the number of dead-ball goals we have this year, we’re extremely disappointed with that. But it’s not just the coaches, I just walked out of the locker room and we have some people in there that are very, very disappointed not to have obtained all of our objectives tonight and clearly a shutout at home is one of the objectives that we’ve had and haven’t accomplished yet.”
Sacha Kljestan echoed the similar comments Kreis made shortly after Saturday’s game, saying it’s good sign to see his teammates not fully satisfied and added the team could’ve closed the game a lot earlier when the Lions had several chances in the first half to take a commanding lead.
“We come off the field with the mood a bit dampened because of the way the game ended, we’re not really happy,” said Kljestan. “We got to be proud of the three points, but we probably could’ve put that game in the bag much earlier if we would of finished more of our chances, it could of been maybe 4-0 at halftime and the game was really over.”
“It just sucks right now that we’re giving up goals on set pieces, so we got to find a way to do a little bit better as a team,” added Kljestan. “It’s a good sign that guys come in and they’re not happy after the way that game ended, so we got a lot of hungry players in our team and we all want to be successful.”
Meram scoring slump
After a career-high 13 goals last year with the Columbus Crew, Justin Meram has yet to find the back of the net for the Lions, seven games into the season.
His scoring slump continued on Saturday against San Jose and failed to capitalize on a penalty kick in the 86th minute, however, Meram did make an impact coming off the bench after assisting in Dom Dwyer’s 100th professional goal in the 69th minute.
— Orlando City SC (@OrlandoCitySC) April 22, 2018
“It was a fantastic pass. Justin is a [threat] whether it’s scoring goals or setting up goals,” Dwyer said Meram’s impact on the game. “Once he can get his monkey off his back and get his first one, I think the floodgates will open for him. He’s a very talented player and there’s a lot more to come from him.”
Shortly after the game, Kljestan said Meram jokingly told him he didn’t want an easy penalty but to “score a more difficult and beautiful goal to get his first one.”
“We wanted him to get that goal unfortunately the goalie made a nice save on him, but he did have a beautiful assist to Dom,” said Kljestan. “He definitely came in and made an impact on the game and that’s the most important thing to get his confidence growing again.”
(Photo Courtesy of Victor Tan / New Day Review)
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